GENESIS 18: The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
Yesterday, as I read about Abraham, I noticed his response when the Lord appeared to him. It was an interesting study. However, today when I read about Lot’s response to the Lord’s appearance, the contrast was striking.
Let’s examine this.
Abraham was sitting quietly in front of his tent. Perhaps he was sitting there on purpose because he wanted quiet time with the Lord. It says as he sat, he lifted up his eyes. Now, he may have lifted up his eyes in the sense of looking to God in prayer, or he may have lifted his eyes to look out on the vast country God had given him. Either way, he was prepared to see the Lord. He was tuned into God.
When Abraham did lift his eyes, he saw “three men,” which we understand to be the Lord. Whether the Trinity, or the Lord with two angels, which is how the men are described later in the chapter, isn’t really significant. What is significant is Abraham’s response to seeing them.
First, Abraham RAN to meet them. Abraham recognized them as God and/or God’s messengers. He ran eagerly to see what it was all about. However, he didn’t forget to offer hospitality. He asked God if he could serve Him, provide for Him. What a great response.
God doesn’t need what we have; it’s all His. But He does want us to willingly give back to Him the things He has given us to use in service to Him. Abraham begged to serve God and offer Him refreshment. It was probably customary to offer food, drink, and rest to weary travelers. We should use what God gives us in hospitality. Abraham cooked a calf for them and told Sarah to make cakes with fine meal. Then he served this to them with milk and butter. He made them a delicious meal, and they ate it.
When the visitors had finished eating, they spoke to Abraham. “And they said to him…” Why is this important? Because Abraham was in a place and in a frame of mind to hear what they had to say to him and to be able to respond to whatever God’s message was. And it was quite an important message. They told Abraham that he and Sarah were going to have a son! It is recorded that Sarah laughed in disbelief; however, Abraham apparently believed them because nothing is mentioned about his reaction. And then the men rose to leave.
But, Abraham rose to follow them. He wanted to remain in God’s presence. Abraham followed after God. Eventually, the two others went off toward Sodom (verse 22,) but God stayed and talked with Abraham. And you know what happened? God told Abraham things in His own heart. He said, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” (verse 17) This tells me that Abraham and God were close. They were friends. This is further illustrated by Abraham’s comfort in talking to the Lord. After God let Abraham know what was in His heart, which was to destroy Sodom, Abraham boldly intervened, and asked God if He will not save Sodom for the sake of ten righteous people. And God agreed.
This illustrates two important lessons. First, we should talk to God as we do to a friend. Not that we should be irreverent, but we shouldn’t be afraid to share what’s in our hearts and ask God whatever we want to know. Secondly, it tells me that prayer (talking to God) affects what happens. Because of Abraham, God changed His heart.
Tomorrow we will look at Genesis 19 and Lot’s reaction to the appearance of God’s messengers.